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Alaska Conservation Leaders Selected to Receive 2010 Refuge System Awards

The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) and National Fish and
Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) have selected recipients of the 2010 Refuge
System Awards, presented each year to refuge conservation professionals,
volunteers and Friends groups that exemplify outstanding dedication and
passion for wildlife conservation in advancement of the mission and
purposes of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). Alaskans are
well represented among this year's winners.

Vernon Byrd, a biologist at Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge in
Alaska, has been selected to receive the Refuge System Employee of the
Year Award for demonstrating dedication and vision in the protection of
marine species of coastal Alaska, such as auklets, puffins,
storm-petrels and other seabirds. Mr. Byrd's innovative inventory,
monitoring and research programs have resulted in data that is now used
to influence everything from commercial fishing to climate change
models. He has been instrumental in efforts to recover species such as
the Aleutian cackling goose by eradicating invasive predators, and has
been a dedicated champion for conservation in the harsh and far-flung
environment of maritime Alaska.

The Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges will receive the Friends
Group of the Year Award. Founded in 2005, the group has the colossal
task of protecting and raising awareness of the more than 75 million
acres of lands in Alaska's National Wildlife Refuges. The Friends have
undertaken projects to remove invasive plants, reduce invasive horse
populations, and educate both local communities and national
decision-makers on the importance of National Wildlife Refuges in
Alaska. The group has had outstanding results and continues to grow and
reach out to new communities.

Awards will be presented at the 2010 Refuge System Awards Reception
sponsored by NWRA, NFWF, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the
Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) in the Cannon
Building Caucus Room in Washington, DC on the evening of Tuesday, March
9.

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